This was our first river cruise - the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel. We spent 4 days in Amsterdam and I definitely recommend a few days before embarkation. Jet lag is tricky and we pay so much for the cruise we wanted to truly enjoy it. We stayed in the Marriott by the docks and loved. We are the type of couple who like to just wander around and we did. Our only scheduled events were the Van Gogh museum (get your tickets online ahead of time) and a dinner cannal cruise (also got tickets ahead of time and we loved it.). Second only to Paris I think Amsterdam is beautiful. Take time to appreciate it all.
We had an AA stateroom (314) with French and real balcony. It was worth it for us. There was plenty of room, plenty of storage, and we are not tiny people. Be smart and think ahead. We went in October and took lots of UnderArmor. It was the perfect selection. We had jeans washed and laundry was ultra reasonable. We took black pants or black jeans for dinner with long sleeves, collars, and fancy scarves. No fancy clothes necessary.
No excursion taken
We did Amsterdam on our own before embarkation.